Tips for winterizing a home

With bitterly cold wind gusts and freezing temperatures approaching, Quebec' homes are at an increased risk of being damaged. To help homeowners in all provinces prepare, the Quebec arm of the Insurance Bureau of Canada is arming them with some suggestions for how they can winterize their properties.

According to Jack Chadirdjian, director of public affairs for IBC, one of the most important things homeowners can do is prepare for water damage.

"Water damage accounts for about half of all claims paid out in home insurance in Quebec, well ahead of fire and theft," said Chadirdjian. "Every year, it costs the Canadian insurance industry more than $1 billion to compensate policyholders who have suffered water damage."

In order to prevent water from damaging a home, the group says homeowners should check the condition of their roof, as that's one of the ways water can leak inside. If the shingles haven't been replaced in at least 20 years, a professional should inspect the roof, as it may need to be replaced.

Another area that should be inspected is a home's foundation. If cracks are found, allowing water to seep inside, they should be repaired by a specialist, IBC recommends.

Other potential entry points for water are windows, particularly in the basement. Homeowners should make sure window wells can't accumulate with water. Caulking may need to be applied around windows to prevent water seepage, IBC advises.

The risk of fire is something else Quebec residents need to be wary of in the winter months. Chadirdjian says that many homes in the province are not equipped with smoke alarms, and among those that do have them, nearly half do not work properly.

"A distressing state of affairs," he said.

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To decrease the risk of fire, IBC says homeowners should practice regular smoke detector maintenance, which includes changing the batteries and checking to make sure they work properly.

Some portions of the home are more vulnerable to fire than others, such as the chimney. In light of this, IBC says homeowners may want to have their chimney cleaned regularly so excessive amounts of creosote can be removed.

Fire hazards should be removed from the home's vicinity as well. This includes propane tanks that are typically stored under hibachis and grills. The group says these tanks should be removed and stored someplace far from the house in the winter months. 


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